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February 2002

Secular Franciscan Order: Holy Spirit Fraternity
Canberra, Australia


Fraternity Meeting The next Fraternity meeting will be held on Friday 22 February 2002 at 8pm at the Marian Hall, St Matthew's Parish, Stutchbury St. Page.

Fraternity Council Elections The Regional Council has been asked to send a visitor to conduct our elections, if possible at the Fraternity meeting on 22 February 2002 but if not then at the Fraternity meeting on 24 May 2002. Please think prayerfully about this matter and conscientiously consider whether you can make yourself available to serve your sisters and brothers on the Fraternity Council.

Annual Retreat. Our Annual Retreat will be held on 22 to 24 March 2002 at the House of Prayer, Goulburn. It will be directed by Fr. Theo Gillian, OFM.

To cover the expenses involved, such as a stipend to Fr. Theo to cover his fares and accommodation, those attending are being asked to contribute $100 each. If anyone finds difficulty with that please speak to Helene (6287 5510) before making a decision about attending. In any case please let either Helene or Martin (6251 1928) know either at or before the Fraternity meeting whether you will be attending the Retreat.

Retreatants should try to arrive by 7pm Friday 22 March as the Retreat will commence at 7.30pm. Remember to bring a Breviary. We have undertaken to provide our own bed and bath linen (as in previous years). The Retreat will conclude by 4pm on Sunday 24 March 2002.


Welcome. We welcome EMMA REISCH, a professed SFO, who has transferred to our Fraternity from the Plumpton Fraternity. Some of us made her acquaintance at our picnic at Weston Park last month.

Fraternity History. Thank to the kind efforts of many members in straining their recollections of "things past", we were able to forward a brief history of the Fraternity to National Council in response to their questions.

Celebrations. We celebrate quite a few birthdays and anniversaries in the coming month:

Sylvia Berger Profession 25 March
Tony di Michiel Profession 13 March
Tony di Michiel Birthday 24 February
Frank Farrell Profession 11 March
Kathy Hailey Profession 30 March
Pam Ledbrook Birthday 1 February
Loui Seselja Profession 11 March

Poverty. Here is the first of three parts of the text Fr Carl promised us, summarizing his wonderful reflection on SECULAR FRANCISCAN POVERTY that we found so inspiring at our Day of Reflection in December.

1. We can't be serious about gospel poverty if we don't first fulfil the basic expectations of people in civil society. (Ask those present:) What is normally expected of us today, without even calling it "poverty"?

Basic: Personal hygiene: not overweight, taking physical exercise, cleanliness and tidiness, no littering.

Expected: living within one's means; timely payment of debts; sharing expenses; accountability in spending money; financial support of one's dependents; avoiding ostentation, a lavish show of wealth, an overload of jewellery; moderate eating and drinking; moderate (some say no) recreational gambling; safe driving.

Social Taboos: no drug dependency; no drunken driving; no smoking.

2. What comes to mind first when you think of the requirements of "poverty" in your life as a Secular Franciscan?:

(a) Economic poverty: affecting one's material prosperity and one's living conditions, developing an external lifestyle that is as materially simple as circumstances permit, and freely choosing that lifestyle.

Should I?: be less interested in making money? have a less expensive car, home? do without surplus modern conveniences in the home and at work? dine and dress less expensively? spend less money and time on cosmetics, hair dressing, and beauty care? avoid an excess of expensive entertainment, opera, movies, live shows, TV viewing? not be dominated by fashion trends? not try to keep up with the Joneses, much less overtake them, or leave them behind in a cloud of dust?

(b) Poverty of spirit: affecting one's attitudes to everyday living, coping with human brokenness, tragedies, weaknesses, freely accepting things out of order, not up to standard, untidy situations.

God, help me to: accept things I can't change, and not complain about them; to look for the positive even in bothersome things; to make space for God to live and work and love in me.

Often, that's as far as we go, but there is more to Secular Franciscan poverty than answering these questions and living up to these expectations. We need to consider Secular Franciscan poverty in a much broader and deeper context.

3. The sources of Secular Franciscan poverty

(a) Gospel life:

The essential foundation of all Christian and Franciscan life is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel according to Luke is particularly strong on gospel poverty. For example:

Lk 12:22-31: "Your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides." There are many obstacles to be overcome before one can become free enough not to worry about oneself, what one will wear, how one will survive, how one can be available to God. Poverty is experienced in the obstacle race and in vulnerability.

(b) Secular Franciscan Rule and General Constitutions:

The Rule of 1978 is the members' own expression of their identity and way of life, approved by the Church's highest authorities. The General Constitutions, finally approved in 2000, also reflect the mind of the worldwide membership.

SFO Rule of 1978:

11: Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God's children. Thus, in the spirit of the "Beatitudes", and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power (that is, possession for possession's sake, power for power's sake).

Gen. Const. SFO, 2000:

10: "Christ, poor and crucified", ... is the "book" in which the brothers and sisters, in imitation of Francis, learn the purpose and the way of living, loving and suffering.

15.1: Secular Franciscans should pledge themselves to live the spirit of the Beatitudes and, in a special way, the spirit of poverty. Evangelical poverty demonstrates confidence in the Father, effects interior freedom, and disposes them to promote a more just distribution of wealth.

15.2: Secular Franciscans, who must provide for their own families and serve society by means of their work and material goods, have a particular manner of living evangelical poverty. To understand and achieve it requires a strong personal commitment and the stimulation of the Fraternity in prayer and dialogue, communal review of life and attentiveness to the instructions of the Church and the demands of society.

15.3: Secular Franciscans should also pledge themselves to reduce their own personal needs so as to be better able to share spiritual and material goods with their brothers and sisters, especially those most in need. They should give thanks to God for the goods they have received, using them as good stewards and not as owners. They should take a firm position against consumerism and against ideologies and practices which prefer riches over human and religious values and which permit the exploitation of the human person.

(c) Other Franciscan sources:

Admonitions 18:

Blessed is the servant who attributes every good to the Lord God, for he who holds back something for himself hides within himself the money of his Lord God.


Martin Morris humbly asks for prayers between 22 and 24 February while he attends "The Beginning Experience" (for bereaved persons) at Blackfriars.

Please remember to pray for vocations:

"Gracious God, we pray that men and women might respond generously to Your call to ministry in the Church; --- And may You increase our Franciscan community by calling those dedicated to penance and the Gospel life."

Council Meeting. The next Council meeting will be held on 8 April 2002 at Martin's home.

Input for the Canberra Franciscan and requests to Jack Smith : phone +61-2-6258 3824